Capturing Every Element of an Event: The Art of Detail Shots

Susan Elizabeth Detail Shot

Photos by Susan Elizabeth

Detail shots. Some may say they are an art form, some may say taking them is a science…but I guarantee you all would say they are delightful to capture on a wedding day — and are absolutely beautiful!! While the wedding photography is (and should be!) primarily focused on the bride and groom, there are a million other visual details that make up the big day. So much time and energy goes into different aspects of the wedding — decorations, the food, the attire…the list goes on and on! A bride will be sure to thank you for capturing every element of the event — from the pattern on her beautiful wedding gown, down to the mini-cupcakes served for dessert! Here is the inside scoop on how to capture detail shots with confidence.

Photos by Susan Elizabeth

Michael Jordan spent numerous hours in the gym, Beethoven lived and breathed over the piano keys…you get the picture…and to become skilled at taking detail pictures, it takes practice! From the comfort of your own living room, you can apply different techniques, work with various angles and find the focus that works best for you with detail pictures, BEFORE tackling the real thing!

When it comes to detail pics, the importance of efficient time management cannot be underestimated! It is never a bad idea to try to fit in certain detail pictures as soon as they are set up and before guests arrive (example: floral arrangements). Also, make sure there is enough time allotted in the day-of timeline to scope out the best locations, find good backgrounds and assess lighting conditions for the detail shots!

Photos by Susan Elizabeth

Talk to your bride and collect certain elements you will need for the detail shots BEFORE the big day arrives! Educate her about your plans for the detail shots (trust me, she WILL be excited) and tell her what you will need. Some examples are an invitation, jewelry, shoes, the garter…the list goes on! Getting the components in advance will save both of you stress and ensure that no item is forgotten!

As mentioned earlier, assessing lighting conditions and finding lighting that will work well with the detail shots you wish to take is extremely important! As a photographer, you already know how lighting can make or break a photo for portraits…and the same goes for details. Whether you are utilizing natural light, or using a reflector, think purposefully when deliberating the best lighting for each and every aspect that you photograph!

Photos by Susan Elizabeth

The “Rule of Thirds” is powerful when it comes to detail shots! You will want to keep this in mind when laying out your elements and thinking about how to make your photos visually appealing. Keep photos balanced by being sure that if you set a detail (for example, an invitation) to the left of the photo, you will have another detail to counter the first one on the right side (for example, the garter!)

For backgrounds, you want to be sure that you don’t pick anything too “busy” that will take away from the focal point of the photo — the details themselves! Look for clean, simple backgrounds. Furniture is often popular with detail shots (think jewelry lying on a dresser). You can also be prepared beforehand by creating a styling board to use as a background that you bring with you; a styling board is a specific backdrop board used for taking flat lay pictures of details. You can create your own, or google “styling board” to find one you can purchase!

We have created a downloadable shopping list (LINK) for items you can use to create your own styling board, along with items you can utilize as “extra details” in the shots themselves!

To purchase ready-made styling boards, we recommend checking out Kiss Books and The Styling Mat as options.

Photos by Susan Elizabeth

Don’t be afraid of white space in your detail photography — in fact, it can bring out the vibrancy of the details you are shooting! You do not have to overcrowd every shot with extra perfume bottles, ribbons and knick-knacks. While styling aids are useful when properly placed, you do not ever want a picture to feel so crammed that the focus is taken off of the detail you were trying to capture in the first place! Simplicity never goes out of style.

What’s your favorite detail shot to capture? What is your favorite aspect of detail photography? Talk to us in the comments below!

A special thanks to Susan Elizabeth Weddings for allowing us to feature her beautiful detail shots in this post!


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